What do you do when there is a pandemic, children need literacy support and local sources are no longer available? In this case, the solution was for the Rebecca V. Sheard Literacy Center to reach out to supporters for help!
The Center was able to team up with members of the Alpha Delta Kappa Alumnae Organization to provide summer reading enrichment experiences for our school aged mentees and families. Alpha alum liaison, Joyce Yianoukos, reached out to members of the organization via social media and email to see if there would be members available to virtually read and engage with children from our mentor program over the summer. Several members responded to the call and were matched up with one or two families. Alpha alums consistently provided highly memorable reading experiences that otherwise would have been missed and potentially could have resulted in “summer lag.”
As the program concluded, parents reported:
~ Through Zoom, they read twice or three times a week. Once finished with the sixth-grade book with my child, they moved to the seventh-grade book. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I, like most of the other parents, worry about my children's education, concerned they would be behind in the curriculum, in addition to health and safety concerns. The Summer Reading Buddy program helps children to read, to learn, to consider, and to establish the discipline! I sincerely hope more funding will be invested in this program so that more children would benefit from it!
~ We are so grateful to get to know our Alpha Reading Buddy during the Summer Reading program. Thanks for organizing such a meaningful program. There is no doubt that my child’s reading buddy influenced her forever, and we hope to keep in touch with her in the upcoming months and years.
We also heard from the Alpha Alumnae members:
~ I really enjoyed participating in this reading program over the summer. I read with my assigned student for five weeks. We enjoyed reading non-fiction and fiction stories each session focusing on reading fluency and comprehension. Thank you for organizing this great program. I'm always happy to help.
~ I just want to send a quick note to say I have enjoyed working with my assigned buddy and his mom for the past several weeks. He is such a bright, spirited, and smart little guy. My Tuesdays always went quickly, as I had our reading time together to look forward to each week. This has been a great program, and I am proud to have been an Alpha alum participant.
~ Thank you so much for reaching out to the alumni group with this great literacy project. I feel very fortunate to have been connected with my darling reading buddy, as she was a true joy to work with. She is a very bright little girl with a joyful heart and made wonderful progress in her reading. Her parents graciously invited me to their home for an in-person visit and I truly enjoyed every minute of it. I am hoping to continue to build a relationship with this wonderful family for years to come.
~ My assigned buddy was always enthusiastic about our meetings, and it was a great way to relax with a good book and a good friend! I would love to participate next summer!
This is an instance where the pandemic helped us think outside the box and resulted in something highly positive! The heartwarming comments from parents and Alpha Alum volunteers serve as testimonial to the effectiveness and far-reaching consequences of the program! We will plan on supporting this program in the future and hope to see it expand!
By Cindy Wells